Four years ago this month, I was fresh off my first visit to Liberia, West Africa. (Okay, it’s been my only visit, but since I fully intend to go back, I’m calling it “first.”) Apart from an anniversary trip to Hawaii years earlier, I’d never been away from continental North America before. So why did I venture off to a small, war-torn West African nation?
I’m glad you asked.
My energetic friend Andy Perkins founded the family-assistance charity BESTWA, Inc. in 2006. In 2017, he invited me to accompany a team to Liberia so I could meet BESTWA’s Liberian director, Daniel Mellish. The idea was for me to interview Daniel and write up his life story. I set out with high hopes (plus protein bars and mosquito repellent). Click here for the blog post I published shortly after we arrived in country.
As planned, I met Daniel and his wife, Victoria, in person. But our days there were so busy that I didn’t have much time to hear their stories, which worried me considerably. I felt kind of useless, to be honest. Still, I did get to witness how chores are done, see the rainforest vegetation, smell the charcoal cooking fires, and feel the humidity. I worshipped with the Liberians, listened to their music and the accent and patterns of their speech, and joined in children’s dances. As it turns out, this experience helped me place the reader in Africa, so Daniel’s story speaks for itself in his voice (without me, the writer, getting in the way).
What about that interview time I thought was lost? To my delight, we had hours of in-person time when Daniel and Victoria visited Texas the following month. Besides, there’s always email to confirm facts or clarify sequence. (I can’t count the many times I pestered one or the other of them with detail-y questions, which they answered with great patience.) I must add that many of their experiences were harrowing, to say the least. This isn’t a children’s book.
Now–four years, tons of historical research, two new grandchildren, one new daughter-in-law, and an out-of-state writers’ conference later–I’m happy to tell you that I’ve finished drafting Daniel’s story. Not only that, I’ve been polishing the manuscript to prepare it for a professional editor (because I know I won’t catch all the inconsistencies and errors). I can’t wait to publish this book, which I’m titling No Small Thing. It’s the most exciting project I’ve ever undertaken.
How about a sneak peek at Daniel’s story?
I’m glad you asked that, too. There’s a new tab at the top of the home page, just under the banner photo (or in the drop-down Menu): NO SMALL THING. Clicking on that tab OR HERE will take you to a form, where you can register to receive the opening chapters as my gift to you. Below the Download link, you can register to receive an occasional newsletter to keep you informed about the status of the book. (No spam and, of course, you can unsubscribe any time.)
Thanks for reading,